Libmonster is the largest world open library, repository of author's heritage and archive

Register & start to create your original collection of articles, books, research, biographies, photographs, files. It's convenient and free. Click here to register as an author. Share with the world your works!

Libmonster ID: COM-925
Author(s) of the publication: GEORGY GRECHKO

share the publication with friends & colleagues

By Georgy GRECHKO*, Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.), pilot-astronaut of the USSR

In 1955, I began working as an engineer at the Experimental Design Office-1 with Sergey Korolev, and a year and a half later I was told to calculate a trajectory of guiding the first national satellite of the Earth into orbit. Namely, it was required to develop programs of pitching (angular movement of aircraft with regard to transverse) and characteristic speed so that a rocket would reach the first cosmic velocity with zero tilt over the local horizon. By that time the Americans had already madetwo attempts to launch such vehicles but they failed. However, we understood that there would be the third one soon, therefore, we had to hurry.

Designers, "girls" as we called them, calculated this program under my direction using electromechanical machines (arithmometers but with electromotors). Of course, they were forty-fifty years old, however, at that time it was customary to address them so. Their first shift worked from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m.; then there was the second shift which worked from 6 p.m. till midnight. Then everybody left, and I could have a rest. But, as the next shift of designers came to work at 9 a.m., in order not to go far, I put on my coat and slept on my desk. This cycle was repeated every morning.

Once an interesting thing happened to us. It is very difficult to select proper programs, so that the rocket would go out at a given point with zero tilt to the horizon: in the calculations it flew over it either with "plus", or "minus"; we had to use the method of successive approximations. The machines we used could not calculate trigonometric functions, therefore, we had to calculate them arithmetically. Suddenly, it was found out that we took the required functions from Khrenov's table, where trigonometric functions were specified with eight characters after a comma. At first, the designers went berserk: How come? We have always calculated according to Bradys but now we have to use eight characters... In general, the issue was discussed at the trade union meeting, where the "girls" were told that they had always calculated the trajectories of combat missiles, which did not require the angle close to zero and, therefore, trigonometric functions did not "jump" so strongly in those calculations.

* An abridged version of the article by G. Grechko from the book The First Cosmic (M., 2007).

стр. 10

We carried out last calculations using the first Big Electronic Calculator (BEC) which at that time had just appeared in the Soviet Union and was installed at the Physical Institute named after P. Lebedev, USSR Academy of Sciences, Lenin prospekt. The calculator was installed in a huge room. It operated on lamps. In order not to overheat them, windows were open even in winter and the ventilator always operated, while we had to put on winter coats. When a beginner came to the room, he first tried to switch off the ventilator, over which there was a plate: "Ventilator is a friend of work, let it always operate."

Half of the BEC time (approximately a whole day) belonged to atomic scientists, while almost all night belonged to us, rocket engineers. And when we finished to calculate, municipal transport did not function any longer and as, naturally, we did not have cars, we had to sleep there. It was cold and, to warm up, we invented different methods, we even slept in the corridor: there were carpets in the corridor, which we used to wrap ourselves up and doze so till morning.

I remember the morning when calculations were, in the long run, over - I obtained a final trajectory of guiding the first satellite into orbit. I took the tape on which it had been recorded, left the institute and waited until the grocer's opposite was opened. They sold sausages there, while in Podlipki (now it's Korolev) they were unavailable. I bought what I wanted, put all into the string-bag together with the tape and went home by electric train.

I got home without adventures and, fortunately, this time I did not miss my station, as it often happened. In our Institute our "secret agents" immediately took this tape away from me, put all necessary stamps, though it was clear that on my way to our town near Moscow I could have lost this tape and made as many copies as I wanted. But they did not want to go where calculations were carried out. Such was a secrecy system.

This trajectory was included in calculations; on its basis a pitching program was created, according to which the rocket was turned to change from vertical flight to horizontal with regard to the local horizon and the program of characteristic speed. When all had been done, we went to Baikonur a few weeks before launching, which was scheduled for October 6, 1957.

At the testing range the rocket was already tested in the assembled form, while I had before launching to check the readiness for the start and fueling of the system. Moreover, I had to be at start till the moment when the drainage was closed in oxygen tank: if it is closed immediately, the tank simply explodes due to pressure, so we had to let off steam and permanently add liquid oxygen, so that the required level was maintained till the very start.

By that time the satellite was ready. A few words about it. As a matter of fact, our first satellite, i.e. the one which had to be the first, weighed 1.5 tons and carried a lot of scientific hardware. But it was not adjusted for the start on October 6 and, therefore, its start was postponed (later on, it was the third to be launched). The simplest satellite PS-1 was the first we launched. It had only batteries and a radio transmitter - the sphere of more than 83 kg.

Of course, we, young romantics, learning this, disputed with Korolev: How come? We are launching a primitive transmitter instead of a serious scientific device. Let's at least install detectors of pressure, temperature on it ... Korolev explained to us that at that time we could not afford it (by the way, though they say that he was very stern, he spoke very politely with us): "While we prepare a satellite to match these detectors, the Americans will carry out the third launching. What if it's successful?"

Even the date of launching was put off for the same reasons. Moreover, at the beginning of October an Assembly of International Astronautical Federation was held in Barcelona, which was, by the way, also attended by the Soviet delegation representing the USSR Academy of Sciences. In a booklet of scientific and technical information, which was issued regularly in our country, we read that on October 5, the Americans would make a report at this assembly called "Satellite Over the Planet". This made us prick up our ears: what if this report is made "in the wake" of the satellite launched by the Americans, while we plan to launch it only on the 6th?

We rushed to Korolev, showed this information to him. At first he said nothing, went out and only many years later I learnt that he had got in touch with the State Security Committee (KG B) and asked them whether they had any information about Americans going to make another attempt to launch their satellite on October 5? The following answer came from the KGB: No, we have

стр. 11

no information. But there was another paragraph: we have no information that they do not want to launch the satellite that day.

Korolev ordered to curtail preparations: to cancel some check-ups, which might be not very important and put off the launching till October 4. Of course, this was a serious risk but he had to run risks.

Thus, the launching day came. My group was at a start before half-hour readiness. We examined all required parameters and then went behind the theodolite tower from where we watched the take-off.

The rocket went out from the flame. It was a little funny to see it as it seemed "too short": its "own" warhead was very long, while the fairing for the first satellite was a very short cap. By the way, so far I had seen the warhead only on the drawing in the form of a schematic triangle. Only 50 years later I saw a real warhead - gigantic, almost up to the ceiling - in the museum in Sarov.

So, the R-7 rocket took off, then separation started, there were commands, telemetry was measured ... All of a sudden me heard shouts: "It's falling, it's falling!" We saw how at first it raised itself over the horizon and then began moving towards it.

At that time rockets, indeed, often fell as we were only developing them, so our hearts sank. But, actually, at that time the rocket "was falling" only with regard to us, i.e. with regard to the horizon of start. For zero tilt we had to guide it for hundreds of kilometers from starting point, and we had to see how it went down in order to "lie down" on the local horizon later on. I say: "Well, guys, everything is all right, it just has a different trajectory..." However, people who were not used to satellite launchings got frightened.

Later on telemetry gave information about the rocket and satellite. It showed: the R-7 operated as much as it had been calculated; its speed complied with the planned one. However, just in case we waited for the satellite to fly over us to receive its signals. This happened approximately in an hour. Only then it became clear that it was on the orbit and we began to break up. It was late at night by local time.

Korolev reported on the take off by the special communication line, then he came to us - it happened in the building, a kind of barrack. People crowded in the corridor, and he said: "Comrades, I am grateful to you. Now you can go and have a drink.

To understand how it sounded in that situation, one has to imagine Baikonur of 1957. As a matter of fact, there was no cosmodrome then. Gigantic structures - start, assembly-testing complex and others - were called a "polygon", which was located near railway station Tyuratam.

Today it takes several hours to prepare rockets for takeoff. At that time it took two weeks, while it took months between the time when separate blocks were brought to the testing range and the very start. All that time "dry law" remained in force there: neither wine, nor beer, nor vodka. Moreover, there was no place to buy them, as at that time Tyuratam was only a railway station and a small village situated near the station - dozens of houses but no shop. When the testing range was built it was serviced by a military unit: there were shops there but they did not sell alcohol. Of course, somehow people "found a way out": there was no wine at the testing range but there was always spirit. It was used to clean glass, contacts. However, telemetrists used it most of all as information was recorded on films and to get it quickly, developed films were dried with spirit. Well, afterwards it was quite fit for drinking.

In general, the situation was rather tense. In this situation Korolev says: "You can go and drink..." He was an artistic man, made a pause, and added "tea".

At that time I just started to work at the testing range, was very naive, so I said: "Oh! I have a bottle of wine". Smiling Korolev immediately frowned - it was prohibited to bring alcohol to the cosmodrome. He ordered: "Hand over the bottle to the commandant." I said: "The bottle - I will." He laughed and asked: "What are you? Engineer? You will be a senior engineer". And then, of course, celebrations started.

It must be pointed out that though we launched the satellite and even wrote a communication for radio, nevertheless, we did not break up until we heard it on the air read by well-known announcer of the All-Union Radio Yuri Levitan.

стр. 12

The communication was compiled in a reserved manner. Moreover, we wrote that now this event may remain unnoticed, however, years would pass and contemporaries would assess its present importance in future. But Levitan, when reading the text, made a mistake and instead of the word "contemporaries" said "compatriots". It turned out that this event would be interesting only to compatriots even many years later. As a result, the next day, October 5, the newspaper Pravda was issued as usual, and only somewhere in the corner there was published a small note about the satellite, which had been launched in the Soviet Union, and some figures had been given.

However, front pages of a great many world newspapers reacted to what had happened: colored drawings, viewpoints, comments.... Thus, we understood what we had done in fact from the foreign press. A day later Pravda joined them: it began publishing drawings, articles, interviews of scientists, then it started publication of schedules: when and where one can see this star - the First Satellite.

For participation in this work Korolev was awarded the Lenin Prize, my superior, as far as I remember, the "Sign of Honor" Order, and I was given the medal "For Labor Merit" - the smallest non-military medal. I still keep it and it is dear to me as I received it for the First Satellite.



Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LRussia LWorld Y G


Libmonster OnlineContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

GEORGY GRECHKO, SATELLITE GOING INTO ORBIT // London: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 01.10.2018. URL: (date of access: 24.05.2019).

Publication author(s) - GEORGY GRECHKO:

GEORGY GRECHKO → other publications, search: Libmonster RussiaLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Libmonster Online
New-York, United States
208 views rating
01.10.2018 (235 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes

Related Articles
The first thing that inspired me to this discovery is the shock that the researchers of superconductivity experience. And this is understandable. If the conduction current is formed by free electrons, then why does superconductivity increase when free electrons practically disappear, freezing to atoms. Secondly, this is the obstinacy of the Russian scientist, Dr. Fedyukin Veniamin Konstantinovich, who doubted that superconductivity exists. He writes: “Proceeding from the general scientific, ideological position and practice that there is opposition to every action and there is resistance to any movement, it can be argued that resistance and electric current along the conductor should be. Therefore, the so-called "superconductivity" electric current is not, and can not be. "
Catalog: Physics 
15 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
According to our hypothesis, the conversion of electrons and positrons into each other occurs by replacing the charge motion vector with the opposite vector. This is explained by the fact that all elements of the electron's magnetoelectric system are opposite to all elements of the positron's magnetoelectric system. And this opposite is determined by the vector of their movement in space. Therefore, it is only necessary to change the motion vector of one of the charges to the opposite vector, so immediately this charge turns into its antipode.
Catalog: Physics 
68 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
Catalog: Military science 
82 days ago · From Libmonster Online
The article gives my short life story with a list of my discoveries. May the terrible moralists forgive me, I call these hypotheses discoveries because their logical connectedness and conformity with the materialistic dialectic of thinking does not allow to doubt that truth has been found here.
Catalog: Philosophy 
82 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
I wrote this article when I was 33, and I, who did not understand anything in physics, but who had logical thinking, were outraged by those alogisms and paradoxes that flowed from Einstein’s logic of relativity theory. But it was criticism at the level of emotions. Now, when I began to think a little bit in physics, and when I discovered the law of the difference of gravitational potentials, and based on it I built a five-dimensional frame of reference, it is now possible to prove the inaccuracy of Einstein’s theory of relativity at the level of physical laws.
Catalog: Physics 
89 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
Awareness of man himself, the birth of the human “I” occurred through a qualitative leap in the process of evolution of the population of brain giants, which appeared as a result of crossing Homo sapiens with Neanderthals.
Catalog: Science 
91 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
istory make the masses. But the masses are ruled by leaders. The influence of an individual on the development of social processes is the greater, the greater the influence this personality has on the consciousness of individuals, as well as on the social consciousness of groups, classes and nations. The formula of Marx's social progress — the developing productive forces of society outgrow their production relations, throw them off and give birth to new ones — true, but only with Lenin's amendment: man is the main productive force of humanity.
Catalog: Psychology 
91 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
The fundamental difference between a herd of animals and a human society is the presence of social laws formed by the consciousness of people in human society. Anthroposociogenesis is the process of forming into the consciousness of hominids of social laws, through the indefinite and combinational variability of genotypes with the elimination of those hominids that are not capable of subjecting their activity to laws.
Catalog: Science 
91 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
Comparing all that is united by the concept of "mine" with all that is united by the concept of "not mine" the concept of "I" is born. Here begins the development of the individual consciousness of modern man, here began the development and individual consciousness of fossil people. It also began its development and public power, which initially could not have any other form, as soon as the form of protection of a mother who realized her motherhood to her children. Both individual consciousness and public power originate in the form of legal consciousness, and, first of all, in the form of awareness of the issues of belonging of certain objects to certain individuals, that is, in the form of awareness of the concepts "mine is not mine", "my child is not my child".
Catalog: Psychology 
91 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov
Dialectics is often called the tool of knowledge of nature. But, in the opinion of the author of this article, this tool is still as imperfect as the scissors would be imperfect, without the central screw uniting the two blades of this tool. This "cog" in dialectics is the fact that the "struggle" of opposites, which is the driving force behind the development of all processes of nature, is not absolute. "Struggle" is born when the dialectic system deviates from the state of equilibrium, and the goal of this "struggle" is to restore the lost equilibrium of the system.
Catalog: Philosophy 
92 days ago · From Gennady Tverdohlebov

Libmonster is a free tool to store the author's heritage. Create your own collection of articles, books, files, multimedia, and share the link with your colleagues and friends. Keep your legacy in one place - on Libmonster. It is practical and convenient.

Libmonster retransmits all saved collections all over the world (open map): in the leading repositories in many countries, social networks and search engines. And remember: it's free. So it was, is and always will be.

Click here to create your own personal collection

Support Forum · Editor-in-chief
Watch out for new publications:

About · News · Reviews · Contacts · For Advertisers · Donate to Libmonster

Libmonster ® All rights reserved.
2014-2019, LIBMONSTER.COM is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)